Monday, October 8, 2012

I learned a lesson over the weekend

Over the weekend I went looking for more information on the 'how to' of writing. I am always looking to improve. I went to a site that recommended a little e-book. I studied the comments, which were terrific and said how good this handy little book is. I checked out a few links and decided to purchase it.

After reading,
  • Never use he thought, she thought, he felt, she felt, he knew, she knew, she had, he had, wondered, realised, decided, wished, speculated. These phases are death to a novel.
  • It also states never underestimate the power of if and if only. 
  • When a statement will not do pose a question. 
  • It went on about ing words being shallow, that they shouldn't be used. 

After some thought I went into my current wip and checked out these words. Urgh!!! Then I proceeded to change what I had and three chapters in I found these changes jolted my work. My voice was wiped out and the natural flow had disappeared. Luckily I kept another copy of the manuscript before I undertook any changes.
I believe all words can be used if done correctly. If we followed 'how to books' and undertook their suggestions we are left with nothing but an unreadable story. There are times when those words can be used.  I guess the rules really do apply, 'learn the rules but break them only if you know why you are doing it.'

After all this I went back and checked out what other work the author had published, considering I read on the site multi published and top seller this and excellent reads. I was surprised when I read her sales ranking on Amazon and other places were low, very low.
I then checked out a about five novels that I know have sold well. Books by best selling authors and stories that people have raved on about. These words, she had, he had, were used constantly in the books, as were, wondered, realised, etc. I did a search and highlight and in yellow it picked up four or more on a single page, sometimes six incidents.

I learned a lesson over the weekend. Trust my instinct, trust my heart, and be cautious of what people tell me about my writing, but at the same time be critical of my work. Oh, and it has taught me not to rush off and buy 'how to' books if I don't know anything about the author. lol..  I will stick to the recommendations people I trust and know give me. 
Have a great week, and don't forget, smile. :)


Cathryn Hein said...

I really loathe help books like that, Suz. They do my head in and they're just plain wrong. As you point out, best-sellers often break all sorts of "rules", which just goes to show there aren't any.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Cath,
Yes, it certainly did my head in. There is so much about telling us what we should and shouldn't do. Yet, now my eyes are open wider. After learning so much over the last few years I think I should leave those books well alone. lol.

Anonymous said...

I think you are doing well Suzanne, without having to go seeking out help books.

Just keep at it.


Anonymous said...

I decided to find my voice first before plunging into the sea of 'self help' books and recently bought my first. Debra Dixon's 'Goal, Motivation, Conflict'. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with GMC issues and structure issues.

I have to say that I generally dislike 'ing' words, but there ARE places in an ms where they are valuable. As Helene Young says when she paraphrases Douglas Bader, 'Rules are for fools and the guidance of the wise.'

And as yo so rightly pointed out, Suzanne, know the rules and they apply before breaking them.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Shirley,
Thank you for your vote of confidence. :)

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Sandy, I have GMC, I've had it for a while and found it's a good book. This one is recommended by RWA.
I think I know the rules. Everything in moderation. :)